The Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon Society have sued the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for allowing cattle ranching in the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area (“Gila Box RNCA”) in southeastern Arizona. Plaintiffs argue that cattle grazing and accumulations of manure are harmful to the Gila Box RNCA and allege that the federal agencies are violating their obligations under the Endangered Species Act to protect a designated critical habitat and at least six listed species who live there. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.
Lawsuit Challenges Allowing Arizona Cattle Ranchers to Use Protected Habitat
NMFS Announces Issuance of Permit for Abalone Research
The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced approval of a scientific research permit for the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, to take anadromous fish under the Endangered Species Act during the course of research on the management, conservation, and recovery of black abalone. Anadromous fish are defined as fish born in freshwater who spend most of their lives in saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn, such as salmon and some species of sturgeon.
FWS Seeks Comments on Polar Bear Status
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced its required 5-year status review for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. The polar bear was listed as threatened in 2008. The agency is seeking any new scientific or commercial data since the last 5-year review was conducted in 2017 to help evaluate the status of the species. The comment period is open through December 6, 2021.
NMFS Announces Recovery-Planning Workshops for Rice’s Whale
The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced the dates of five virtual workshops between October 18, 2021, and November 18, 2021, for experts to weigh in on recovery planning for Rice’s whale, a protected species of baleen whale in the Gulf of Mexico that NFMS recognized as its own species on August 23, 2021. The Endangered Species Act directs NMFS to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation and survival of federally listed species, recovery being defined as effective conservation that brings a species back to the point that it no longer needs or qualifies for ESA listing status. Each of the five workshops will focus on a different aspect of the recovery plan and all are open to the public.
NOAA Reopens Comment Period Relating to Incidental Takes of Sea Turtles
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking comments on the ongoing collection of data and reporting requirements relating to incidental takes of sea turtles in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay net operations. The ongoing data collection aids the agency in ensuring that sea turtles are being adequately protected under the Endangered Species Act. The comment period will be open until November 1, 2021.
FWS Proposes Removing 23 Species from the Endangered Species List
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed removing twenty-three species (primarily birds and mollusks) from the federal endangered species list due to believed extinction. The FWS is seeking comments that address whether the best available scientific evidence supports its delisting proposal. The comment period is open through November 29, 2021.
FWS Proposes Reclassification of Rare Arachnids
The U.S. Fish Wildlife Service has proposed the removal of the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver from the federal endangered species list due to taxonomic revision. The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver is no longer a scientifically recognized species but rather has been reclassified with the existing Madla Cave meshweaver, which remains listed as endangered. Therefore, the spiders will remain protected by the ESA under their amended classification. The comment period is open through November 29, 2021.
NMFS Has Applied for a Permit to Research Sea Turtles and Sturgeon
The National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NFSC) has applied for a permit to take Atlantic sturgeon and five species of sea turtles over a period of five years for purposes of scientific research. The NFSC proposes to catch and tag turtles, attach transponders, take genetic samples, and weigh the animals in the course of its research to mitigate sea turtle-sturgeon interactions in fisheries. The comment period will be open through October 29, 2021.
USFWS Announces Endangered Species Act Listing Decisions for Four Animal Species
The U.S. Fish Wildlife Service has announced the results of its requisite 90-day review on four petitions to add species to the endangered species list. FWS found that there is sufficient scientific justification to proceed with a twelve-month review for possible listing of the American bumble bee, Long Valley speckled dace, and Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle. However, FWS did not find sufficient scientific justification to proceed with possible listing for the Tucson shovel-headed snake. The FWS will consider any public input it receives relating to the American bumble bee, Long Valley speckled dace, and Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle during the course of the agency’s twelve-month review.
FWS Declines Listing Status for Black Creek Crayfish
The U.S. Fish Wildlife Service has announced its findings that there is insufficient scientific justification to proceed with listing the Black Creek Crayfish as either endangered or threatened. FWS’ announcement comes in response to a petition for listing more than 400 aquatic species (including the Black Creek crayfish) that the Center for Biological Diversity, Gulf Coast Restoration Network, and others submitted more than a decade ago. FWS’ lengthy delay in adequately responding to the 2010 petition is the subject of ongoing litigation between the environmental organizations and FWS.